Seeing that Xiang Qing’s house didn’t have the many rooms, he asked with concern, “Where should we put her?” Yin Zi was carrying the girl on his back.
I thought for a moment and quickly decided, “Drop her in the pigpen. That place is a good hiding spot. Don’t let anyone find out.”
So we sneakily brought the girl to the pigpen. We put her next to a pile of straw. From somewhere, Yun Zi had gotten a medicinal concoction. He forced it down her throat. It didn’t take long for her to start vomiting. After she had thrown up for a while, she became feverish and fainted.
I looked at the sky to guess the time. I thought it was somewhat cold. With good intentions, I pushed back several pieces of straw, and then I tightly buried her in the pile of straw, so she wouldn’t catch a cold.
After I finished, I worriedly went back to the kitchen. This time, I didn’t dare to follow my own ideas. I obediently listened to Yin Zi’s instructions while cooking.
So, rice has to be washed before it can be put into the pot.
So, vegetables shouldn’t be crowded together and heat can’t be too high.
So, fishes’ internal organs have to be removed and scales have to be scrapped off.
So, salt wasn’t something you could add as much as you feel like.
So, Mo Lin’s medicinal herbs and Feng Xiang wood were poisonous when combined… if someone ate them, they’ll die.
There were so many things to learn for cooking. It was more difficult than fighting. I was so busy that I felt like I was running around in circles. One second I forgot to do this. Another second I forgot to do that.
I didn’t dare to simply boil the fish. Following Yin Zi’s instructions, I scraped off the scales, cut open the belly to remove its internal organs, sprinkled salt and spices directly onto the fish, and steamed the fish with the rice.
Every few seconds, I couldn’t resist checking if the food was done. From time to time I would screech and ask stupid questions like, “why were there white bubbles rising from the rice?”
Finally, I finished cooking the food. Yin Zi saw that there weren’t enough side dishes, so he stir-fried leafy, green vegetables.
This dinner was my greatest victory as a cat. This accomplishment was worthy of being written down and kept in the history books for all eternity!
In high spirits, I carried the food to the dining room. My mother-in-law, elder brother-in law and his wife, and my son were all waiting for the meal to be served. This was the first time I saw my elder brother-in-law. He looked similar to Xiang Qing, but was more rugged. His eyes were somewhat dim. His nose was straight. He had a beautiful beard. Overall, he was a handsome older man.
Elder Sister-in-law was a different person in front of him. She was like a small, obedient bird. Whatever he said, she would agree. Their affection towards each other was warm-hearted. I thought it was very admirable.
Xiao Mao was sitting next to mother-in-law. His sweet and affectionate words coaxed her to smile.
“Dinner is here,” I happily greeted everyone.
Mother-in-law raised her head. Seeing that I was able to cook a meal, her face was more pleasant, “Let’s eat.”
I obediently put down everything. Yin Zi came forward to place the utensils.
Elder brother-in-law looked at me for a while and somewhat enviously said, “Younger brother has good fortune. He has a wife and a son…” Then, he sighed.
He looked at elder sister-in-law’s stomach and let out a long sigh.
Elder sister-in-law lowered her head. She seemed sad and about to cry. She muttered, “Husband, I failed to live up to expectations. Why don’t you get a concubine?”
Elder brother-in-law quickly comforted her, “A rural family is busy every day. Who has the spare money and free time to get a concubine? This family and home has you. Let’s make the best of our humble lives together. Don’t worry about this every day.”
“But…” Elder sister-in-law wanted to say more.
In a dignified manner, mother-in-law ordered, “Now that there is a grandson, I’m not anxious anymore. You don’t need to keep mentioning this. You’ve only been married for three years. Wait and see. Let’s eat first.”
This translation belongs to FuyuNeko. Mew. Please use an adblock extension if you’re reading this.
“Mom, did you cook today’s meal?” Xiao Mao quickly jumped down from the stool. He vigilantly looked at the food on the table.
I proudly nodded.
Xiao Mao looked at the sky, and then at the ground. He hurriedly said, “Eh… I suddenly remember that I haven’t started my homework and I haven’t finished other things. Let me leave earlier.”
I quickly stopped him from leaving, “Even if it’s important matter, eat before leaving. You have to try mom’s excellent skills.”
Yin Zi grabbed him to whisper, “Relax, the vegetarian dishes were cooked by me.”
Hearing this, Xiao Mao sat back down without worries.
I expectantly looked around and discovered that the most important person wasn’t here. I quickly asked, “Where Xiang Qing?”
Elder sister-in-law scooped up rice while she answered, “Today, he went to Ye’s home to break off his marriage. While he was there, he discovered a demon doing wicked deeds. So he’s waiting there to catch the demon. He said to not wait for him to eat. He’ll eat something outside and will return home later.”
He’s not coming back to eat…
He’s not coming back to eat…
He’s not coming back…
Eastern Sea’s fish, Heaven’s Feng Xiang wood, a hundred celestial flower petals, alchemy fire…
I looked at the food on the table that I had strenuously spent a day and a night to make. I wanted to cry. Seeing that everyone had picked up their chopsticks, without regard to image, this cat quickly flew onto the table.
I protected the food while crying, “You have to leave some food for Xiang Qing! You can’t eat everything! You can’t!”
My brave movement with no regard to personal safety startled everyone. Or perhaps, they were scared. I had broken the stone stool when I accidently kicked it on the way to pouncing on the food. Without any complaints, they obediently let me set aside two, big plates of fish for Xiang Qing. After I was done, on their own initiative, they started to eat.
As they ate, they slightly frowned. The vegetarian dish was quickly devoured. Mother-in-law very thoughtfully kept adding fish to Xiao Mao’s bowl.
“Grandson, eat more so that you’ll grow taller.”
With a painful expression, Xiao Mao licked the fish. He froze. Then, without worries, he started to eat the fish. Although the fish was difficult to chew, he finally finished eating it.
I just knew that this child’s taste in food had been spoiled by Wa Wa and Luo Luo. Ordinary food no longer appealed to him. In fact, Heaven Realm’s items were very beneficial to mortals. It would improve their health and increase their lifespan.
A few days after this meal, mother-in-law’s almost blind eyes recovered. Her posture improved and she no longer needed a cane to walk. She became alarmed because she thought this was her brief revival before death (T/N: literal meaning would be ‘final radiance of the setting sun’) and she didn’t have many days left to live. She noisily fussed for us to prepare her burial clothes… it was somewhat funny.
Elder sister-in-law’s skin became much prettier. The lines near her eyes had also decreased. She was so happy that she laughed every day.
Of course, they didn’t know the reason for these changes, and even I didn’t know. A long time after, Yin Zi mentioned the reason to me. But this type of thing, I couldn’t say to a mortal. This would always remain a secret. Let’s not speak of this anymore.
Now, I just wanted to wait at the entrance for Xiang Qing to return, so he could eat my cooking. The night wind was somewhat cold and the insects continued to chirp. The one after another dewdrops brought an indescribable chill.
After dinner was over, I took the initiative to wash the dishes. With agile hands, I didn’t break a single bowl.
Then Yin Zi went to the pigpen to check on the girl. After she was fed a lot of bitter medicine, she finally woke up. She profusely thanked us. Then, a nearby pig came by to nudge her a few times. The pig scared her so much that she screamed.
Yin Zi impatiently scolded, “Why are you screaming? Have you never seen a pig before?”
“First… first time seeing a living one …” The girl was somewhat embarrassed, but she still moved a few steps away to avoid the pig.
I stared at that pig. It obediently ran away.
The girl let out a relieved sigh, and then introduced herself, “My… my name is Xiao Cha. I’m from a foreign country, so I don’t understand Chinese cultural too well. Often, I’ll cause trouble due to confusion. Please don’t mind.
(T/N: The way that Xiao Cha uses the word wulong to say that she’ll do something due to confusion or muddleheaded is a modern day usage. A person from Ancient China would have used different words.)
“Nonsense,” Yin Zi bluntly exposed her lie. “This is central China. With your ability and careless nature, if you were really from a foreign country, you would have died on the way here. Also, to go through the city’s walls, you would have an official stamped pass. (Ancient China’s equivalent of a passport.) Do you have it?”
Eh… Yin Zi had searched through her bag.
Xiao Cha seemed to be intimidated.
She supplemented her previous explanation, “I… I’m really not from this country. I don’t know how to explain. But… I’m not a bad person.”
Yin Zi rolled his eyes, “Look at us. Do you think we’re bad people?”
“Of course not. You saved me. You’re definitely good people,” Xiao Cha looked at Yin Zi with a joyful expression.
“Your vision is definitely questionable,” Yin Zi stood up. He patted himself to remove the straw on his body. “Anyways, no matter who you are. Since you recovered from your illness, quickly leave. We don’t have to space to keep you or the spare time to take care of you.”
Xiao Cha wasn’t the slightest bit angry.
On the contrary, with adoring eyes, she said, “Elder sister, when you speak, you sound so cool (cruel).”
(T/N: Cool would be the common modern day usage of ku that Xiao Cha is intending. Cruel is older, less common usage of ku that Yin Zi thinks she means. )
Yin Zi was so exasperated that he almost toppled over…
I stealthily pulled Yin Zi outside and then whispered, “This girl is strange.”
“Let’s just send her off. It doesn’t matter to us if she dies on the road.” Yin Zi thought about it before deciding.
Yin Zi turned around and said, “I’ll give you some money. Go somewhere else.”
Xiao Cha quickly came over to cling to Yin Zi’s thigh and said to him, “Elder sister, don’t throw me out in the middle of the night. Since you were kind enough to bring me here, then you should also let me stay here for a while.”
“There’s no use in keeping you! It would be wasting rice.” Yin Zi scolded and flung her hands off.
“I’m useful. I’m extremely useful.” Xiao Cha promptly stood up and earnestly said, “I know many methods to get rich.”
“Oh?” At the mention of money, Yin Zi’s eyes brightened a bit. “Tell us your ideas.”
“I know how to make glass!”
A burst of laughter escaped from Yin Zi.
“I though you were going to say something useful. Glass has existed since the Eastern Zhou Dynasty. And, we have ceramic, which is cheaper. Glass is easily breakable and a troublesome toy. Why would we bother with it?”
(T/N: In Ancient China, glass was used for vases and beads, but most vases and other crafts were made of ceramic or metal. This is why Yin Zi was comparing the glass to porcelain. He doesn’t know that Xiao Cha means the stronger and clear glass that we have now. )
Xiao Cha revealed an incredulous expression.
This translation belongs to FuyuNeko. Mew. Please use an adblock extension if you’re reading this.
She thought for a moment, and then continued to say, “I know how to make eau de toilette using flowers.”
“Don’t tell me you make it by extracting the liquid from flowers and then adding whatever to it. This type of thing isn’t as easy to use as ordinary incense.” Yin Zi had a scornful expression.
“Eh…” Xiao Cha thought again. “I know how to refine steel?”
“Oh! That is rare! Tell me the specific methods.” Yin Zi raised his eyebrows and looked somewhat sinister.
Xiao Cha said, “First, you need to construct a blast furnace… ”
“What is a blast furnace? How do you build it?” Yin Zi continued to ask.
Xiao Cha was stunned.
“I… I don’t know, but I could research…”
“Then once you figured it out, come look for me.”
Xiao Cha hurriedly pulled on Yin Zi to reconsider and said, “How about… opening a fast food place? That would earn a lot of money.”
“How would we start?”
Xiao Cha carefully explained her business method idea.
After she finished, Yin Zi sarcastically smiled and said, “If you sell this type of cheap, fast food for three coins per portion, have you thought about the cost of the ingredients? Have you considered the cost of advertising, renting a store, and hiring workers?
How much would you have to sell to break even? Even if you don’t consider additional costs and assumed that each portion has a profit of one coin, to sell the amount that you’re thinking of, the store must be in a location where’s there’s a busy stream of people.
But in that type of place, there won’t be customers. If an average commoner has three coins, he’ll have a huge variety of food to choose, he might not come to your store to eat. The truly poor people would bring two steamed buns or large flat breads from home for their meals. Why would they go to your store to eat?”
“Then… we won’t open a fast food store. What about opening a skincare store for women?” Xiao Cha started to sweat. She seemed as if she was lacking in confidence.
Yin Zi shook his head, “Don’t be so naïve. You are a person without power and connections and an unknown background. Who would dare visit your store? All skin production products are tested by many people before they are passed down and used by everyone.
As for the things you want to sell, if they are simple items, people could make them at home. If they are complicated, then if a young girl’s skin has the slightest problem or nothing happens, they will destroy your store and chase you out of the city.”
Xiao Cha was very dejected from Yin Zi’s words, but continued to say, “What about opening a tea store and having beautiful girls demonstrate the art of tea as a show?”
“You might as well open a brothel instead. It would probably earn more money too.”
Xiao raised her head to look at Yin Zi and said, “Do you have to drive me away?”
“Yes!” Yin Zi never sympathized with strangers.
Xiao Cha started crying and numbly looked at Yin Zi.
I don’t know why. Her expression reminded of that long ago winter when that black-robed woman desperately cried icy tears.
Yin Zi probably thought of that winter too because he retreated two steps. His resolute attitude had softened.
He coldly said, “You can leave tomorrow morning.” Then, he left behind two silver coins and pulled me to leave with him.
Behind us, Xiao Cha held her knees while crying and whimpering. She seemed very sad and deeply hurt.
Yin Zi became twitchier. He let go of me and left the room by himself.
I looked at Yin Zi’s back and then looked at the pigpen. I finally decided I wouldn’t do anything because waiting for Xiang Qing was the most important thing.
The moon had reached the middle of the sky. Why hadn’t he returned? Could there have been a problem with ending the marriage arrangement?
As I waited, I slowly fell asleep at the entrance.